18 Dec 2012

Thousands still remain in evacuation centres in Fiji

11:21 am on 18 December 2012

More than three-thousand people are understood to remain in evacuation centres in cyclone-battered Fiji, but so far there are no reports of casualties.

Cyclone Evan hammered the country overnight, with strong winds causing widespread damage and knocking out power and phone lines.

Reports say power is out over in most of Viti Levu and telecommunication services are also down in many areas.

The interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama will visit the West of the country today.

Other government officials will also visit devastated areas later today.

A correspondent in Fiji, Riccardo Morris, says a hurricane warning has been cancelled but the Met Service has issued flood warnings because of the innundation of water.

He says so far no one has been reported to have been killed or injured.

"In the end I think it was fortunate that people heeded the warning and there was also a curfew enforced overnight which probably helped limited damage and injury to people."

Riccardo Morris says it has stopped raining near the coast, but it continues to rain heavily in the highlands, causing water to come rushing down, and swelling the Navua River to critical levels.

The New Zealand foreign affairs minister Murray McCully says New Zealand will assist with immediate relief efforts in Fiji following Cyclone Evan.

The minister says initially New Zealand will make available about 40 thousand US dollars to respond to specific requests from Fiji.

He says tarpaulins, water containers, generators and chainsaw packs are also on the way to Fiji on commercial flights.

Mr McCully says the New Zealand government is also making a contribution of about 50 thousand US dollars to help the Fiji Red Cross replenish supplies.

Meanwhile Mr McCully has announced further assistance to Samoa in the aftermath of the Cyclone.

It will an additional 470 thousand US dollars to support relief and early recovery efforts.

He says New Zealand will also consider further requests for assistance from Samoa as the country undertakes the longer-term reconstruction effort.

Mr McCully says Samoa faces a major recovery and will not face it alone.